The U.S.-led coalition has air-dropped U.S. and allied Syrian forces near Tabqa in Raqqa province, expanding a campaign by the Syrian Democratic Forces militias against Islamic State, the SDF said on Wednesday. The operation aims both to capture the al-Tabqa area, across the Euphrates from the SDF’s other main holdings, and to curb Syrian government advances in that direction, the SDF’s Raqqa campaign said in a statement on social media. The landing forces had seized four small villages in the area west of al-Tabqa and cut a main highway that links the provinces of Raqqa, Deir al-Zor and Aleppo, the SDF, a U.S.-backed alliance of militias added.
Dozens of displaced persons have been killed in an air raid allegedly carried out by the US-led anti-ISIS coalition on a school where they were sheltering in the ISIS-controlled Al-Raqqah province, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights (SOHR) said on Wednesday. It reported that at least 33 people were killed in the bombardment by warplanes believed to belong to the International Coalition, carried out in the city of Mansura in western Al-Raqqah province on Tuesday night. SOHR activists said that 33 bodies being pulled out of the rubble of the school before members of ISIS arrived to drive civilians away.
The High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy and the European Commission have today adopted a Joint Communication proposing a forward- looking EU strategy for Syria. As outlined in the Joint Communication, the European Union’s engagement in Syria goes beyond the current state of play. It is defined by a longer term perspective in support of the EU’s strategic goals on Syria. The European Union will continue to be the first and leading donor in the international response to the humanitarian crises, providing life-saving humanitarian assistance and resilience support to the Syrian people and neighbouring countries hosting Syrian refugees.
Warplanes bombed a rebel-held area east of Damascus on Wednesday where Russia declared a ceasefire less than 24 hours earlier, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights reported. Russia’s Defence Ministry said on Tuesday a ceasefire had been agreed in Eastern Ghouta in Syria’s Damascus province until March 20. The Observatory said air strikes and artillery had hit three towns there.
The Baabda Presidential Palace has completed arrangements for President Michel Aoun’s trip to Egypt and Jordan next week, his second Arab trip after his election as president. On Monday, Aoun will first meet in Cairo with his Egyptian counterpart Abdul Fattah al-Sisi and Prime Minister Ibrahim Mahlab. He will later head to the Arab League headquarters for talks with its Secretary-General Ahmed AboulGheit. For their part, Lebanese ministers will hold meetings with their Egyptian counterparts. On Tuesday, Aoun will head to Jordan for talks with Jordanian King Abdullah II. The Lebanese-Jordanian summit will address the Syrian and Iraqi refugees crisis and study the ways to alleviate their impact on the economies of both countries.